Burnout in a customer services environment
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The recent worldwide shift in focus from goods production to service provision in Western countries has resulted in the expansion of the service sector. The front-line worker has become a central figure in the new workplace, forming an important link between the company and the customer. The nature of the interaction between customer service staff and clients influences the perceived quality of service rendered by the company. Call centre work requires a high degree of personal contact with the public and the performance of emotional labour. Previous research found emotional labour to be a significant predictor of burnout. Given the above scenario, the lack of empirical research that systematically investigates burnout in a customer services environment in South Africa is a source of concern. The objectives of this study were to determine the construct validity and internal consistency of the Maslach Burnout Inventory - General Survey (MBI-GS) (Schaufeli, Leiter, Maslach & Jackson, 1996) in a customer services environment, and to compare the relationship of burnout with various demographic characteristics. A cross-sectional survey design was used. The study population consisted of an accidental sample of customer services personnel (N = 228). The Maslach Burnout Inventory - General Survey (MBI-GS) was used to determine the level of burnout in the participants. A biographical questionnaire was used to gather additional information. Structural equation modelling (SEM) methods as implemented by AMOS were used to test the factorial model for the MBI-GS. Cronbach alpha coefficients and inter-item correlation coefficients were used to assess the internal consistency and construct validity of the MBI-GS. Descriptive statistics were used to analyse the data. T-tests and one-way analysis of variance (ANOVA) were used to determine differences between the sub-groups in the sample. Tukey tests were done to indicate which groups differed significantly when ANOVAS were done. The results confirmed a three-factor model of burnout, consisting of Exhaustion, Cynicism and Professional Efficacy. All three factors showed acceptable internal consistencies. The results also showed that customer service staff who measured high on exhaustion and cynicism (compared with those who measured low) experienced less job satisfaction.